Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Ambiguity and Mystery

I am almost done with 40 Days of Decrease.  Yes, it is a Lenten devotional and here it is almost Advent, but I couldn't resist it sitting on the shelf at the library. I am going through it out of season - but probably just right for me.  Her format packs a lot of punch in a few pages.  She has a short and novel introduction to an aspect of the Gospel story (she works through John) during Holy Week.  Next she introduces the "fast" for the day - criticism, avoidance, self protection, comparison, apathy - in 40 days you can cover a lot of territory.  Then she looks at a historical or current experience of Lent and preparing for Easter. Finally, she sends you to the Scripture that is somewhat tied to her reflection.  In a few short pages a day she covers history, Scripture, self reflection and meditation all in one.  I have really enjoyed it.

Today I am going to share a sample from Day Ten where we are asked to fast from avoidance.  Here is how she frames this fast:
The unknown triggers different reactions in different hearts and exposes our soul's own defaults.  Ambiguity reveals where we instinctively go to feel the illusion of security.  
She draws this discussion from James and John talking to Jesus about how he needs to tone down the talk about crucifixion.  She asserts that they don't know how to deal with the mixed messages around them so they'll take control (sounds familiar).

She explains
To change our defaults we must first address our theology of uncertainty.  And to address our theology of uncertainty, we must first befriend mystery.  
To help us understand mystery she pulls the following quote:

As I teach the 1st graders at church I am more often referring to the mystery and encouraging them to embrace that there are some things that are God's to know and that we can trust Him.

Today I also was catching up on old podcasts and listened to the Schole' Sisters podcast about teaching the Bible.  It starts with a discussion of synthetic versus analytic thinking.  I am still blown away that Mason thought that the first 15 years should basically be synthetic thinking.  I see her point.  I wonder how to keep the mystery in a culture that wants to dispel all mystery as soon as possible.  I was trained to be a great analytic thinker.

The podcast also talks about the role of poetry in teaching scripture.  Have you ever considered poetry as key to reflective reading of Scripture??  I didn't realize that Charlotte Mason's series Saviour of the World is actually a series of poems to help students reflect on the Gospel.  Now I am fascinated by the concept.  Poetry keeps the mystery in a way that prose just can't.  Maybe that's why so many of us know so little about it - we can't handle the mystery.

Now I am thinking about adding more poetry to our lives.  Maybe I should actually read the poetry books I have collected.  I don't like mystery and ambiguity; but, I need to stop avoiding it and embrace it - just like the devotion encourages me to do.

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Compassion and Teaching

This weekend I was blessed to watch an incredible teacher.  I wasn't expecting it, so it was even more refreshing.  My son's violin masterclass had an AMAZING teacher.  I don't teach music and won't ever - but I still took 4 pages of notes on his technique, questions and approach with the children he was guiding.  Wow!

Andrew Kern often talks about analogic thinking - using analogies to help us think more clearly about things.  I saw it in action with this teacher.  He seemed to develop analogies and explanations without difficulty.  He may have had a "bag of tricks" but it seemed so fresh and individual for each student (I watched him work for 15 minutes with 6 different students).  His stories and analogies helped students grasp the abstract concepts they needed to improve their violin playing.  He also had them embody what they were doing with singing, swaying, tapping and other things. I am not sure how that can translate into my everyday world -but I am thinking about it.

All that to say I have been thinking about analogy and when I read this one I was struck:

I know many people whose favorite verses are in Psalm 91 which also features this image of God. This is about extending the compassion of God and being sheltered under his wing - such a different picture of sheltering.  How can I best communicate this compassion and strength of this to my children?

Compassion and curiosity were the two keys to education in his view (we learned during the parent lessons).  He referenced Brenee Brown who places compassion and shame on a scale together.  More shame, less compassion because you have to protect yourself.  He didn't make Christian references but you don't have to look beyond the Garden of Eden to get this!   He also said that now some put curiosity and anxiety on a scale.  So, again, as anxiety increases questioning, wonder, and engagement - all those components of curiosity - decrease.   So helpful to consider.

His final point was about using achievement words versus artistry words.  We filled the achievement column in about 1 minute.  It took 30 grown adults 5 minutes to produce a verb related to artistry that he would accept - play, wonder, imagine, create, etc.  It was SO telling and I was frustrated that it took me a while to switch into that framework - I know better!  Later a friend who was there said that God is first a Creator - so He uses words of artistry first with us.  Once shame enters our vocabulary changes.  I was convicted!!

We are almost finished with Black Beauty and it teaches often about compassion and doing what is right regardless of circumstances.  It is an autobiography of a horse so it gives you a better sense of the helplessness and the mercy that animals are sometimes subjected to.  It might be a bit too direct at times but here is one quick reminder:

See what others are reading at Ladydusk this week.    

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Sacred Ordinary Days

A few weeks ago I bought a new planner on a whim.  It had a kickstarter campaign last year and I had followed its development. When they dropped the price, I couldn't resist.  It is the Sacred Ordinary Days Planner (here is a walk through of it).  I didn't watch the walk through before I bought it - impulsive.

Then I realized it had two flaws:

It is a daily layout and monthly lay out - no weekly.

It only has room for 3 big activities a day.

I almost sent it back.  I have a gazillion activities a day!  I have to see the big picture.  But then I realized that this is exactly what I need.  I get so caught up in the big picture, the long term, the "what ifs" that I need a planner that focuses on this day - the present.  (This year she did introduce a weekly planner - in case you are interested).

Each day has a quote, a one line prayer (aspirations I think, Andrew Kern talks about these sometimes), the Daily Office Bible readings from the Book of Common Prayer and then space for three big activities (with cue and rest/reward included a la Gretchen Rubins and others).  I grew up in a liturgical church so I know about this method of Bible study but I have never been very faithful, If you are faithful, you read most of the Bible in 2 years.  Below the Scripture readings is an area for notes and then a "time schedule".  I don't use quite like a normal planner but it has become a great tool for reflection.

On Sunday, she has the Lectionary, more quotes (often about Sabbath and rest) and room for reflection.  Each Sunday she provides a page for you to reflect and reset in 6 areas of life. If I took Mystie's advice and did it in this journal, things might be amazing around here!  She also has room for you to envision, reflect and reset in preparation for each liturgical season.  Yes, this is what I want my life to be patterned around!

The most unique part of this planner is that it starts by encouraging you to form a "rule of life" - yes, like a monk.  This isn't the first time I've seen this idea (I almost bought A Mother's Rule of Life once upon a time).  However, my personality type is drained by the tedious, routine and everyday (so true). Hello - that's the definition of motherhood! (Incidentally, my mother's personality is the exact opposite - she craves routine - so for a long while I lived on her fumes). However, with 4 kids, 10 and under, at some point you have to give in and create some type of rhythm.

As I read about the rule or regula (ruler, path) I found this image to be a bit less "restricting":

Okay, I can deal with a trellis.  A trellis doesn't exist for its own sake.  It provides the structure and support that plants need in order to help them produce fruit.  Maybe this is exactly what I need.  I don't think I have been very fruitful and maybe its because I have no structure to support the flower and fruit!  A banister is good so that you don't fall off the edges (which I am likely to do some days).

I am still reading other people's "rules" and figuring out what one writer called the "challenging minimum standard" for my life.  Oh, and I have found that most days I can't even do my three things without a bit of struggle - so three is more than enough for this season.  The daily view helps me slow down and appreciate today.  I did like my last planner but it was focused on me. This one is focused on Him and entrusting every day to His care and submitted under His word.

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday With Words: Black Beauty

On the way to Artios we listened to Black Beauty because it is part of Year 4 of ELTL.  We are still early in the book and today we learned about Ginger's background.  Wow - it was convicting. God is really working on me in this area but it is going to require more than a little pruning! Anyway, this was a little barb through my heart.

This morning my son was bad tempered.  By 7:05 am he had decided the world was out to get him and he was recounting all the wrongs that had happened.  As I talked to him, I realized that I often do the same thing - maybe not out loud - but in my heart.  Watching him struggle to find an even keel I realized just how often I let circumstances dictate instead of truth. I choose to be bad tempered and then wonder why the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  This morning I was preaching to myself as I explained that we have to get off the roller coaster of emotions and plant ourselves in God's truth. Circumstances dictating our lives will always make for an unpredictable ride.  My bad temper (even if I think it is hidden - kids are perceptive) will not produce good results - nor will his.   

Alas, this is the type of thing that makes homeschooling hard.  As you watch them grow and try to help them overcome their difficulties you realize that really you have taught them these things.  Most likely not intentionally - but they follow your example.  Can't they forget or look to someone else in the areas where I am clearly flawed!  Looking for new curricula is much easier than uprooting character and much easier.  This is why older home school moms NEVER answered my questions about what to use and always talked about character.  UGGH.  They were right.  Lines like this one illustrate why fiction is growing on me - it provides a window and a way to discuss character without being pointed.  Not so fun when it is my character, but helpful nonetheless. 

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.